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Blog December 30, 2013

How to Migrate an iSeries

How hard is it for enterprises to migrate mission-critical hardware from one location to another? Well, let’s just say it’s no child’s play.

One of our customers was recently acquired by an international conglomerate. The new parent company wanted to transition the IBM iSeries hardware to its own data center in order to have full control and to consolidate management of the platform. Another goal was to get the replication software to work, which the team hadn’t been able to do up to that point.

The key challenge was how could they keep the business up-and-running while moving the iSeries box over 500 miles away? The iSeries had to be shut down, loaded on a truck and moved to the new data center, all while keeping things “business-as-usual”.  As we see in many cases, this iSeries was running a mission-critical application so experiencing any downtime at all was not an option. Connectria’s engineers developed a plan to do just that.

Here is the [shortened] action plan:

  1. Production data was copied on tape from the original iSeries
  2. An iSeries server was spun up at Connectria’s data center
  3. Connectria restored the copied production data
  4. The customer tested against the new piece of hardware making sure it was going to fulfill the requirements from the application standpoint
  5. Once the application was proved to be running property on Connectria’s system the customer’s iSeries was shut down for the move

With the clock ticking, the iSeries server was transferred via truck to the new data center. Anytime we work on these types of migrations we recommend having 2 drivers to avoid any major stops and ensure the hardware gets to its destination unharmed. Even with these precautions there is a good possibility of some of the drives going bad which can push the process back by a couple of days. This is something you must always account for when putting together the timeline. Upon arrival, the iSeries box was spun back up and tested. After the testing was complete the application was reverted back to the customer’s iSeries.

With the work already done, it made sense to keep the box in our data center as a disaster recovery target. This also enabled us to fix the iTera replication that was not properly working before to ensure the customer’s SLA is met. Once the replication software was tested we imitated a disaster, making sure the system failed over properly.  From this point on, the primary location could be shut down at any given time and automatically transition to the DR box with little to no downtime.

Although migrating an iSeries running a mission-critical application is no easy feat, as you see, it CAN be done with proper planning and the right support.

If you are facing a similar challenge and have some general questions on managed IBM services please don’t hesitate to shoot us an email at blog@connectria.com, we’ll gladly help.

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